Without doubt, the big winner in this year’s Recommend’s Readers’ Choice Awards is Marriott International, taking home seven awards in total, two in the travel agent support category: Best Hotel Chain for Travel Agent Support (11th consecutive win) and Best Resort Chain (non-all-inclusive) for Travel Agent Support, as well as Best Resort/Hotel Chain for Value; and Best Resort/Hotel Chain in the USA/Canada (ninth consecutive win), Europe, Latin America (second consecutive win) and Asia (second consecutive win).
“Marriott International has a long-standing tradition of ensuring the success of our travel agency partners,” says Julius Robinson, v.p. of global intermediaries for Marriott International. For instance, “Marriott’s global Love Travel Agents campaign helps to differentiate Marriott International from our competitors. The program was designed to celebrate and build awareness of the global travel agency community and its partners, and created to help build awareness of the pivotal role travel agents play within the travel industry.”
In fact, Marriott International has several innovative programs and services for agents, including a newly revamped travel agent website—marriott.com/travelagents—designed by agents; a Hotel Excellence! training program; Fam-Tastic familiarization rates; and the industry’s only double commission guarantee.
So with these offerings, as well as a new brand—think EDITION—popping up and the constant expansion of the company’s traditional brands in regions around the world, all of these awards our readers bestowed on the hotel company are really not at all surprising. In fact, Robinson says it’s a very exciting time for Marriott International because of “the growth of different and exciting brands such as EDITION and our select service offerings.”
The company will be doubling its presence in China and Europe and will expand new brands, such as Residence Inn by Marriott, in Latin America. And just last month, the company opened its 500th property under the iconic Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand—the 416-room Pune Marriott Hotel & Convention Centre in the historic city of Pune, India. In fact, Marriott International plans to have 100 hotels in India by 2015—that’s huge when you consider that it has only 11 currently.
Additionally, the first international EDITION hotel—in partnership with famed hotelier Ian Schrager—will open in Istanbul in the first quarter of 2011 (the first one is already welcoming guests in Waikiki), and the company has announced the acquisition of the historic Berners Hotel in London, which will be renovated over the next 18-24 months to become The London EDITION. This new brand, incidentally, “combines the personal, intimate, individualized and unique lodging that Schrager is known for,” explains Robinson, “with the global reach, operational expertise and scale of Marriott.” And adding to its string of newbies, the company’s luxury JW Marriott brand saw the opening of the JW Marriott Marquis Miami in downtown Miami.
“The founder of our company, Mr. Marriott Sr., has a personal motto that ‘success is never final,’” says Robinson. “This motto has become a pillar of Marriott’s company culture around the world. The core values established by the Marriott family over 80 years ago…will continue to guide our growth into the future. There is truly a ‘Marriott Way.’ It is about serving the associates, the customer, and the community. Marriott’s fundamental beliefs are enduring and the keys to its continued success.”
Another key to its success is the constant “dialogue” the company has with its guests and travel agents. “Marriott has been active in the social media space through our @marriottintl Twitter account, the Marriott News Center and, of course, Mr. Marriott’s personal blog. Clearly this evolution has changed the way that we do business, and communicate with our customers. Our social media channels have created the opportunity to communicate with our guests, customers and travel agents from around the world.”